BNB: For how long did you live in Africa?
Aikiu: Until the age of 19 years old, then I moved to Paris to study law. I went to law school, and after that I moved to New York because I got a music contract there and I started actually exploring who I wanted to be as an artist and a musician. I came back to Paris, actually, right after.
BNB: I read a quote from you talking about the decadence of the 70s and 80s in New York City, so if you could teleport back to that time and see any artist perform live, who would it be?
Aikiu: I think Chic.
BNB: So then, I’m assuming that it was a pretty big deal for you when you met Nile Rodgers?
Aikiu: Yea, that was a big, big, big thing for me. He was, I don’t know, such a sweet person. His manager met me and she wanted, absolutely, to arrange a meeting with Nile. So we met, and he was an incredible guy to me and introduced me to a lot of people in the business. He helped me try to really focus on who I was and who I am, and just to create what I have in my head. It actually helped me to almost finish my first album, and yea, he’s an amazing guy. He produced so many amazing albums, and maybe you’ll have a surprise sometime soon.
BNB: Do you two have plans to collaborate on something?
Aikiu: Maybe, I can’t tell you at the moment, but maybe everyone can look forward to a nice surprise.
BNB: So, what exactly is going on in your video for “Just Can’t Sleep?” Were you going for some kind of disco/horror theme?
Aikiu: Exactly, that was the concept, to kind of be in between a dream and a nightmare. It was very inspired by the ghost trains with those creatures when you go to Coney Island. That was kind of the idea, to be surrounded by a mummy, Nosferatu, Dracula and those creatures don’t want you to sleep. They are just trying to torture you mentally, and that was basically the idea.
BNB: Is it kind of like your “Thriller?”
Aikiu: I think the next video is going to be more like “Thriller.” We are going to shoot the video for the second single, which is going to be released mid- November through Kitsuné records, in London in the forest and it’s going to be a little bit like a zombie video. That’s going to be more like “Thriller,” and Rankin, the photographer/video director is going to shoot it. I think that it is going to be very interesting, and it will be very inspired by Michael Jackson. It will be a very old school video, like the 80s, like a bigger production. The “Just Can’t Sleep” video I wanted to be more homemade, pretty cheap, and not too overproduced, but the second one is going to be more pop.
BNB: What is your relationship like with the artists who remixed your song on the EP, and what was your take on the remixes?
Aikiu: I was really happy that Azari & III wanted to remix it; I think they are really interesting. They have a very particular sound, and I like the fact that they work on vocals on top of it. That was a very good surprise. Mighty Mouse also, I really like his work and I think he did a very good job. Concerning the others, I was not very familiar with them and it was more the choice of my record label, except Egyptrixx also, I love Egyptrixx. I really wanted him to do a remix, and he did, but I’m very happy with their visions in all the remixes. I think I went to some clubs and I heard a few of the remixes, and I was very surprised. That was weird, but I liked it. There has been a really good response.
BNB: What other Parisian artists inspire you when you are back home? Are you a big fan of Daft Punk?
Aikiu: Yea, I’m a big fan of Daft Punk. I’m waiting to hear the soundtrack to Tron, actually, I’m dying to hear it. I really do like Phoenix. They are really talented, I love their songwriting and I’m very proud of them because they won a Grammy, and they’re a French band. So that made me super happy, and the fact that they are doing pop music and that they are recognized by the world is pretty impressive. Who else? I like a lot of old French artists like Françoise Hardy, I love her, and I also love Jane Birkin. She’s not French, but she was married to Serge Gainsbourg. I actually like the electronica scene more in France, like Justice, and Jackson, I really love Jackson, and I really respect those kinds of artists in Paris.
BNB: Is there enough disco in Paris?
Aikiu: I think that next year you are going to hear more disco in Paris, its going to be a trend, that’s my feeling. I heard some stuff from different bands, and a lot of people are trying to go back to those roots and trying to explore more disco stuff. That’s my impression, so be ready!
BNB: The Aikiu said it first! [Laughs] So, when can we expect you’re album to be finished?
Aikiu: I think we are going to finish the album in mid-October. We have almost finalized all of the production and I’m just working on two tracks. We are going to mix the album in September and it’s going to be released in the beginning of 2011. We are going to release the second single, called “The Red Kiss,” will be out in November. That track sounds a little bit like The Cure mixed with Human League, and you are going to be able to listen to it before the album is released. That single is going to have less remixes, but the choices are going to be tighter, and very particular. I want to be very precise, because I think it’s one of my best tracks. I’m very proud of that one. Concerning the creation of this album, it was very fluid and we shared a lot of very good moments with [Cedric] Pilooski and Julien Vichnievsky, who are writing with me. Over one year we experimented with a lot of techniques in songwriting and new textures, but trying to be very pop at the same time. The album is going to be much more pop than “Just Can’t Sleep,” which is more of a dance track. The album is going to be more pop and influenced by The Cure, The Smiths, Blondie, Kate Bush and David Bowie, but in a pop way.
BNB: What are your tour plans after the album is released?
Aikiu: Actually, we are going to a small tour in the beginning of November, with two dates in New York, two in London, in Barcelona, Lisbon, Berlin and Paris, just to reveal some new songs and show who the Aikiu is physically, and who this character is. It is going to include costumes [laughs], and some special effects, but its all going to feel homemade, because I like to keep that homemade feel and not get too much like Justin Timberlake or Beyonce, like those kinds of artists who are super talented but sometimes it’s too stale.
BNB: Too artificial?
Aikiu: Yea, it’s too much. I want to keep something punk, something more close to the people. So we are going to start that tour in November, but we are going to plan a bigger tour right after the release of the album, and then we will have more shows in America.